7 Ministry Types that End in Failure
By Kelly McDonald, Jr.
Over my years of serving with ministries and observing ministries, I have come to notice at least seven types of ministry that end in failure. What I say that these ministry types result in failure, what I mean is that the ministry will not fulfill its intended purpose to love God and love people. It does not mean that the church or ministry will fail to exist. It is also possible that leaders in a church or ministry repent and turn back to God from these errors – as we should always hope that they do so.
Below, we have listed these seven ministry types. Keep in mind that these are overall attitudes held by the leader or leaders of a ministry. The structure of the church – including services – is geared around a certain mindset. Some of these attitudes can be combined or simultaneously occur in one ministry.
Personality Driven – It’s all about the pastor / leader’s personality. Everything is designed to promote, support and prop up the personality. This means that people can be tempted to look the other way when sin or false doctrine appears because the personality is what sustains the ministry structure. In this type, people become expendable to the personality.
Performance Driven – It’s all about the show. The service and sermon are geared around putting on church as a show. This requires being fake. Real issues going on underneath the service are hidden so that the show can go on. Glorifying God becomes expendable to the show.
Proving Driven – The leader or leaders are always trying to prove themselves. This means that they are always trying to one-up someone else or another ministry. The tendency to put down churches is necessary so that the leader can better ‘prove’ himself/herself. The will of God becomes secondary to the leaders proving themselves to others or self.
Reactionary Driven – Some church leaders are focused on reacting to what others are doing. If one church promotes missions, they react and become anti-missions. If another church is pro-spiritual warfare, they suddenly become anti-spiritual warfare. The leader or leaders are so focused on reacting to what everyone else is doing that they lose their own vision and lack genuineness. This will produce disciples that look at other people as enemies rather than human beings made in the image of God who need correction and affection. The attendees will also lack understanding of Christianity’s core beliefs because the teaching is so focused on what we should be against.
Fad Driven – What’s new? What’s hip? This type of structure “goes with the flow” of whatever new cultural phenomenon is going on regardless of how Scriptural it may be. The goal is to be the ‘cool’ church that can appeal to anyone rather than stand on the timeless principles of the Word of God. It is hard for this structure to sustain the same vision over time because it will always change with trends.
Numbers Driven – This type of structure focuses on numbers. The type of music played, who preaches, how the service is arranged, the schedule used, and so forth is all geared towards filling the pews with as many people as possible. This of course will cause the individual to be drowned out amid the collective. This is usually paired with other ministry types, but it doesn’t have to be.
Money Driven – Some leaders are focused on money. This can be connected to numbers, but not always. If the money is flowing, then they view God as having approval to everything else they do. There is a temptation to compromise to the will of givers to keep the money coming in. There is also the temptation to think that God approves of everything going on in the ministry because the finances are present. The will of God is assumed based on money and not on if God is actually honored by the ministry in Spirit and Truth.
Each of these structures is sustained by human effort because the goal is of human origin. The goal of getting the gospel out is dropped for the ministry structure – maintain a personality / agenda / program / human expectations / personal goals / cultural fads/ numbers / money. Pleasing God is not the first thing on their minds – it is not the central focus.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
When we serve in ministry, God wants to build character in us as well as the people who attend. We must seek the Kingdom of God first and foremost. The outward things of ministry will take care of themselves.
These ministry types are solely focused on horizontal attitude towards ministry. This is to be juxtaposed with a vertical-focused ministry – where a person receives from God and then ministers outward from that posture/position.
Let’s get back to the fundamentals of loving God and loving others in our ministries. Let’s seek first the Kingdom of God. Then we will be able fulfill the great commission!
Kelly McDonald, Jr.